A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
JUDGE WILLIAM R. LEWIS, who died in 1926, at the age of ninety-one was
undoubtedly one of Powesheik County's most beloved citizens. His home has been in
Montezuma for seventy years. He lost his wife in death in 1893. They had no
children, and, as it was well said, in place of children Judge Lewis
considered all members of community his children, loving his neighbors and friends,
all of them, like a father.
A remarkable demonstration of the affection in which he was held by the
community occurred in a ninetieth birthday celebration, on October 12, 1925, when
his old neighbors and friends gathered at the Opera House in Montezuma,
presented him with a great basket of flowers and carried out a program in which
many persons arose to comment on some special phase of the Judge's life and
William Robinson Lewis was born near Zanesville in Muskingum County, Ohio, a
son of John M. and Louisa A. Ramey Lewis. Judge Lewis was the oldest of
their ten children and last to survive. Judge Lewis married at Burlington,
Vermont, in 1865, Mary C. Cutts, daughter of Edwin Cutts. She died April 10,
At the birthday anniversary celebration Mayor Hawkins, who presided,
introduced the various speakers, one of the first being Mrs. Jennie Ensor, who spoke
of Judge Lewis as the school man. She was a pupil of his in 1861 at Montezum
a. Another speaker was J. W. Carr, who referred to "Lewis the pioneer
organizer." He said: "In 1857 Judge Lewis was living in the state of Ohio, where
he was born. . . . he came to Iowa, settled in Powesheik County and at
Montezuma assisted in the erection of the first court house there. He also
worked in the different offices of the county, being a man of education and a
fine penman. He assisted in laying out the highways, being a civil engineer.
He was county clerk in 1861 and after that he served as school
superintendent, state senator of Iowa and Judge of the district court for ten years."
As one of the speakers said in making a brief summary of the life of Judge
Lewis, "he helped build the court house, surveyed the roads, made it possible
for Montezuma to have sidewalks, taught school, built the first electric
light plant here, was judge of the circuit court, practiced law, was state
senator for four years, a strong church worker, and in all his ninety years of
life lived as a true Christian should."
As his pastor at the funeral said: "Judge Lewis came from a very religious
lineage. Some eventually belonged to one church, some to another. This
Christian breadth made itself felt in the Judge's outlook in feeling at home with
any and all Christian people, while always loyal to the church and people of
his choice. What a glorious record he has engraved upon the walls of this
church: elder for half a century, Sunday school superintendent for twelve
years in the court house before the church was built, and every other kind of
official and performing every other variety of activity during all these years.
Until his last illness he always taught his Sunday school class. He was
the best kind of friend to his pastor and all of them, his dignified and humble
participation during worship being one of the finest inspirations any
minister could have."
Judge Lewis was elected judge of the Circuit Court in 1880, his circuit
embracing an extended territory of eight counties. He was judge of the Circuit
Court until it was abolished and then four years judge of the District Court,
and he left the office with the reputation of having brought about one of the
best organized districts in the state, the sixth. After his service as judge
he continued to take an active part in the court and in the selection of
officials for the district. For some years he was the choice of the Twelfth
District for the Legislature.
The closing speech at the birthday celebration was made by R. J. Smith, on
the topic of "Lewis, the Community Man." "Judge Lewis was not content," said
Mr. Smith, "to simply serve the public generally. I say that we have
therefore a splendid and happy occasion this morning of saying something to one of
the grandest men that not only Powesheik County, but Iowa, has had the
opportunity of having and rearing. When we combine his ability in the various walks
of life and realize that he has been spared for many years to serve the
community we are really the ones who are here in self-congratulation. He has been
courteous in manner, kind in spirit to serve us. A friend to all, one where
the children may enter his office and go therefrom with a pleasant word and
kind word. It seems to me that we can all acknowledge him our friend, also a
friend to the church, to the school and to each individual."
Posted at this site with Debbie's permission
*Check your facts, do not know how accurate.